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Eldoret town rises to become regional trade hub

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By JEREMIAH KIPLANG’AT
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By DENNIS LUBANGA
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For a town that suffered greatly during the deadly post-election violence 10 years ago, the recent interest shown in Eldoret by leading corporates keen to set up regional bases to serve the western and northern parts of Kenya has breathed a fresh lease of life in its push to full recovery.

The 2007-2008 post-election violence brought the town to its knees as hundreds of residents were killed and property worth millions of shillings destroyed following a disputed presidential election that sparked deadly protests across the country.

The town in Uasin Gishu County was the epicentre of the violence that led to at least 1,133 deaths and displacement of over 600,000 people countrywide.

Although its recovery has been slow, the recent move by Safaricom, the country’s leading telecommunications firm, to set up its first call centre outside Nairobi region and Toyota’s decision to build a Sh400 million multi-brand facility have given the town a stamp of faith as it seeks to officially become a city.

Toyota showroom Eldoret

Governor Mandago speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Toyota showroom at Annex in Eldoret town on March 28, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Thursday last week, Toyota became the second company in less than a month to spread its tentacles to the North Rift’s main town.

The firm’s Kenya Managing Director Arvinder Reel said they picked the town because of its vibrancy and ease of business.

“As Toyota Kenya, we chose to set up the facility in Eldoret due to the county government’s move to provide an enabling environment to do business, the ease of doing business in the county, a vibrant business community, a host of banks and financial institutions and good infrastructure among other factors,” said Mr Reel during the groundbreaking ceremony.

The facility, to be completed in one year, sits on a four-acre piece of land at Annex estate, along the busy Eldoret-Nakuru highway and will cost Sh450 million.

It will host several brands and franchises including Hino, Suzuki, Yamaha, CASE IH, Mercedes, Jeep and Volkswagen, which are part of the larger CFAO group to which Toyota Kenya belongs.

Cotton spinning section at Rivatex

The cotton spinning section at Rivatex East Africa Limited in Eldoret town. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

It is its second biggest investment in the county by the company following the building of Toyota Tsusho Fertiliser Africa Ltd in Ngeria on the outskirts of the town that produces the Baraka brand of fertiliser.

The plant produces an average of 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually with a 50kg bag retailing at Sh2,800.

Last month, Safaricom officially opened the new call centre in the town with its top managers praising the town’s infrastructure and the ease of doing business.

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The company’s Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Mulinge said that the new hub built at a cost of Sh900 million will create job opportunities for over 800 people.

Ms Mulinge said the centre will further enhance Safaricom’s efficiency in handling the over 150,000 calls received daily and help resolve customer queries much faster.

Toyota Tsusho Fertiliser Africa Ltd

Uasin Gishu County Governor Jackson Mandago (left) during a tour of Toyota Tsusho Fertiliser Africa Ltd plant in Ngeria on March 28, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“We decided to come to Eldoret town because of the good infrastructure including the roads and the airport that will make it easy for us to do business,” said Ms Mulinge who revealed that the company will recruit 300 interns from various local universities in Uasin Gishu County.

The town is also gearing up for a first ever multi-billion-shilling private special economic zone in the country which is being set up at Plateau within the town’s metropolitan area.

A spot check by the Nation revealed that a perimeter wall has been erected around the 700-acre Pearl River Economic Zone and boreholes drilled, setting the stage for the establishment of the industrial park.

The Sh200 billion industrial park will accommodate more than 400 industries with more than 30 of them dealing with agricultural products for export.

The Mediheal Group of Hospitals is also setting up a Sh650 million liver transplant facility in Eldoret town.

Wagon Wheel Hotel in Eldoret town

The entrance to Wagon Wheel Hotel in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said the investments are a vote of confidence for the town that is gearing up for a city status.

He said the town was voted the best in the ease of doing business index in 2016, making it attractive to local and foreign investors.

“We have simplified the processes, we have developed the town, the infrastructure is good and the security has improved greatly because of our good partnership with the national government,” he told the Nation.

He said the town is the main hub for the eight counties that make the North Rift Economic Bloc.

Eldoret International Airport

Eldoret International Airport in Uasin Gishu County. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He urged other corporates to set up their branches in the region, saying its proximity to the other East African countries makes it more attractive to companies interested in spreading business to the neighbouring countries.

“This is the gateway to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. Interested investors are welcome to Eldoret,” he said.

Kenya National Chambers of Commerce Uasin Gishu Chapter Chairman Charles Mose welcomed the investments saying they will provide job opportunities to the youth in the region.

“Eldoret town is now a centre of employment for the majority of the youth. Hospitality has extended to places like the once prestigious Elgon View estate and we can authoritatively say that we are well prepared for the city status owing to the ease of doing business here,” he said.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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